Speech by Chief Minister of Penang
at the PIP Round Table Dialogue 2018
on 27th January 2018 (Saturday)
I am happy to be here this morning at the Penang International Property (PIP) Round Table Dialogue 2018. This State Government proves to be one of the only State Governments that have actively engaged with all the stakeholders, in relation to property development so as to obtain their inputs and feedbacks for our further action, whereby this PIP Summit and Round Table Dialogue in fact began in 2015 and has been held since then on a yearly basis.
2018 is slated to be another challenging year for the industry, just as 2017 proved to be, not just in Penang but throughout the country for the property sector.
Penang still leads in sales performance index amongst all urban cities.
However, it is noteworthy that amongst all out of the four major urban cities in Malaysia, namely Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Selangor and Penang, although it was a soft market for the property sector last year, the sales performance index according to NAPIC, had shown that Penang still recorded the highest sales for newly launched residential properties (for all price ranges) at 40.6% as compared to Johor at 36.1%; Selangor at 26% and WP Kuala Lumpur at 22.5%.
Out of this 40.6% sales performance for all residential price range, 50.7% are for sales of units less than RM300,000; 62.9% are for sales of units less than RM400,000 and 72.9% are sales for units less than RM500,000 as at Q3, 2017.
This proves to be an important achievement for Penang, as not only did we record the highest sales performance amongst the four urban states, but some 72.9% (nearly three quarters of all sales) were for properties below RM500,000, which nationally is considered to be in the affordable range, although the price limit for affordable housing set by the Penang State Government is RM300,000.
Continued Competent, Accountable and Transparent administration to stimulate Penang's economy so as to invigorate property sector.
This Penang State Government which aspires to make Penang an International and Intelligent city, will continue with its commitment to make this state attractive place to work, live and play. By doing this, the property sector will continue to be spurred and stimulated further.
In fact, it should be noted in terms of performance as compared to the previous administration, this State Government has achieved budget surpluses year-on-year since 2008 right up to 2017.
As reported in the recent 2016 Auditor-General’s Report, Penang achieved a budget surplus of RM89.2 million. This meant that the state’s accumulated surplus since 2008 was RM667 million compared to RM105.7 million recorded for the nine years before 2008. The RM667 million, even exceeded the RM373 million accumulated surplus attained by the previous administration which governed for 50 years from 1957 to 2007. We have also successfully increased our state assets by RM1 billion to RM1.83 billion. The State Government's debt was also reduced by 90% to RM68 million at the end of 2016, the lowest in Malaysia.
Further, we have also seen a consistent increase in foreign and domestic investment to the state since we took over its administration. From 2015 to the first half of 2017, Penang attracted a total of RM13.8 billion in approved Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the second highest in the country behind Johor. Despite a 28.2% fall in the total approved investments in Malaysia for the first half of 2017 from RM88.4 billion in 2016 to RM65.4 billion, Penang bucked the trend when total approved investments actually increased from RM2.67 billion in 2016 to RM7.7 billion in the first half of 2017, which is an increase of 188%.
Clearly, with this record by the Penang State Government, it is hoped that Penang will continue to be a very attractive place to invest in, which will in turn boost and invigorate the property market.
Preserving Georgetown UNESCO status and striving for inscription of other areas by UNESCO.
In this regard, the Penang State Government also gives priority to the preservation of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as clearly this has proven to be one of the main catalysts and pull factor to tourists and investors alike to Penang. In this regard in fact, based on our motto of Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Healthier and Happier, a major transformation can be seen throughout Penang generally and in particular, in the George Town Heritage Area. In fact, it should be noted that recently George Town was elected as one of the cleanest cities for tourism in the Asean region.
Apart from the existing inscription George Town as UNESCO World Heritage Site, efforts are now underway also to make the Habitat in Penang Hill a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme, and recently a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed between the Penang Botanical Gardens and the Singapore Botanical Gardens for the sharing of knowledge and information amongst the two Gardens with a view also one day obtaining inscription as a World Heritage Gardens.
In fact, the director of the Singapore Botanical Gardens, Dr. Nigel Taylor in his talk subsequent to the signing of MOU, expressed positive views as to the possibility of the Penang Botanical Gardens being inscribed as a World Heritage Site due to its peculiar and unique character, and commitment to establish Penang as a green state by the State Government.
Connectivity and public transport are critical to sustaining Penang's progress. The Penang Transport Master Plan with plans for a LRT will see connectivity not just within the island but intra island-mainland. With this enhanced connectivity in the future the property sector is poised to be further stimulated.
Development will also not only be concentrated on the island and the mainland. Batu Kawan which is at an advanced stage of development, will spur growth on the mainland and in turn, have positive results in the property sector.
I am pleased to see that there are several topics that will be discussed here today including sustainable development and affordable housing. Where this is concerned, this Penang State Government will continue to ensure that there is development which is sustainable, and further also continue to ensure adequate stock of affordable housing as been elaborated earlier by YB Jagdeep Singh Deo.